The happiness project

As many of you already know, we have only one rule in the Pre-K classroom: be safe! This rule encompasses all that we do and say throughout the year. It means being safe with our bodies but it also involves being safe with our words and our friends’ feelings. Today, during morning meeting, some of the students had questions about how we can be safe with our friends’ feelings. We started a discussion about how we can “pass” happiness from person to person by using kind words and actions. Just a smile can change someone’s entire day around.

Mrs. Forst and I decided to demonstrate this by spreading happiness (glitter) on our hands and then passing it to a student through our morning greeting. The student then greeted their neighbor, passing on the happiness to yet another friend. Once everyone in our class was able to share in the happiness, we decided that we wanted to share it with the whole school! Our class walked up and down the hallways greeting any teacher or students they saw, passing on the happiness even further. Our hope is that our little bits of happiness and sparkle will spread throughout the whole school and possibility even into our families and community. Have you passed some happiness today?

Good Guys, Bad Guys

If you happen to watch a large group of 4-6 year-olds play long enough, you’ll begin to see this age groups’ fascination with all things “bad” and “evil”.  One of the favorite themes in play every year is to be the bad guys or the evil (unicorn, horse, Batman, fairy, fill-in-the-blank).  Young children are drawn to this type of play.  Battling the bad guy allows children to enact control over their fears and anxieties about what they perceive to be good and evil in the world around them.  Being the bad guy lets them play with the power they imbue on villains. This type of play lets the children work through their fears and impulses in a safe environment, where they know that they and their friends are not really bad, but only acting.

When we noticed that good guy, bad guy play had become a prominent theme both indoors and out, we realized it was time to start a new study.

Our question for the children is:

How can you tell if someone is a good guy or a bad guy?
(another version is: What are the clues that it is a good/bad guy?)

We began the study by asking the children to draw their vision of each on separate pieces of paper.

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It was interesting that almost all of the bad guys were identified as Darth Vader, a character in a movie that many of them have not seen.

Sugar Words

You might have noticed an odd phrase popping up at home lately.  Before Spring Break, we noticed that the children’s peer talk was becoming more and more demanding.  This happens each year as the children grow increasingly comfortable with each other. By Spring, it’s like a huge sibling sea roiling between calm tides and wild rides.  This year, we decided to try introducing the children to an old axiom,

“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

We didn’t spend very much time analyzing the words of the statement. Rather, we talked about and modeled the difference between using kind words to request something and using demanding words.  The class labeled kind words as “sugar words.” Demanding, whining, or simply unkind words became “vinegar words.”  While Mrs. Pless and I modeled a few examples, the children noticed that when we used “sugar words,” the other person was more likely to agree with us or at least listen.  When we used “vinegar words,” an argument generally broke out or we were ignored.

We frequently hear the children reminding each other to use their “sugar words” these days.  Luckily, “vinegar words” appear to have mostly disappeared.  However, when they do appear, the request to “please use your ‘sugar words'” generally reminds everyone to take a deep breath and try again.